This week Marvel’s Daredevil launched on Netflix really rather spectacularly and the race is on between the Novastream writers as to who can marathon it the fastest. Personally, I’ll pace myself, but is surely will be complete before I see Avengers: Age of Ultron.
The consensus between everyone I’ve spoken to and the general rumblings of the internet are all positive. Daredevil worked. Unlike Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. it is an instantaneous critical hit and will certainly get a second season. Others on the way include AKA Jessica Jones – starring Breaking Bad’s Krysten Ritter and Doctor Who’s David Tennant – and two others based on the characters Luke Cage and Iron Fist.
Daredevil’s secret identity is Matt Murdoch, a charming lawyer working for peanuts in Hells Kitchen, New York City. The same New York City that was seriously damaged at the climax of The Avengers and subsequently needs rebuilding (fairly villainously) by a series of lieutenants meeting in a half-built skyscraper and a yet unseen larger antagonist.
Our hero is also blind – a point of difference that distinguishes him from your standard billionaire with daddy issues. It is a superhero story though, so the daddy issues come in the form of a down on his luck boxer that was murdered after not throwing a fight. Angst ensues. The blindness also allows him to “see in others ways” including super-hearing and once, super-smell. It’s honestly better than it sounds.
The core characters are strong and Netflix have struck the right balance between an episodic structure and a longer, Breaking Bad-esque mega-story. The incorporation of female protagonist Karen Page into the fold was a very gradual thing and felt very authentic. Similarly she lingers on the events of the pilot throughout the second episode, still rebounding from the enormity of it all while Daredevil marches into a new crusade.
Completing the core trio is a joker Foggy Nelson, as of yet not privy to his friend’s double life. It worked because it didn’t crowd what was essentially a two-part pilot however it needs to be nipped in the bud quickly to avoid turning into Daredevil’s Iris West. Also unlike the CW, the romance is a mild undercurrent of the first episode and then completely void in the second. There’s storytelling bravery in investing in character moments indicative of Netflix – particularly splitting up the characters in episode two to Daredevil/Night Nurse and Karen/Foggy.
Marvel Studios has been extremely forthcoming about the interconnectivity of Netflix to their wider universe in that there will be zero chance of an Avengers cast cameo. Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. will also be kept at arm’s length. The others Netflix series will be in each other’s pockets and culminate into a Defenders miniseries. Excellent.
Only it sounds even more promising than that. Episode two was the unknowing and also very authentic introduction of the Night Nurse, a character very familiar to the Defenders. She even dated Luke Cage. And the repeat use of the local hospital and police station are locked in. The interconnectivity is exciting but it shouldn’t be overdone, a direction Daredevil showrunners are taking from Joss Whedon. They quote Whedon as saying “There should be easter eggs. But it shouldn’t be an Easter Egg farm”. Good news.
Spot Crusher Creel, the villain of Agents of SHIELD Season 2 premiere, as the boxer that beats Matt Murdoch’s father in the fixed fight. There was Avengers Tower in some promotional art but not in the actual show. They pulled a lot from the comics, obviously, including Josie’s and a couple of the smaller villians. Nerd list checked off there.
The thing that makes Daredevil so fresh is it’s dark tone. It’s basically modern noir, with beautiful lighting and camera direction that feels gritty and ugly. Hells Kitchen is not a nice place and the directors would like you to know about it. Furthermore, the six and a half minute single-take climactic battle of episode two was Tarintino quality and propelled the show to the next level.
Daredevil opened strongly with a clear gameplan and a team hellbent to get there. It’s hard to fault a show so solid in it’s convictions – especially when the convictions are right. Onward to the remaining eleven episodes.